A healthy rose is a sign of a healthy vineyard!

A healthy rose is a sign of a healthy vineyard! Hourcat Sud block CabFranc

Long warm summer nights, daytime temperatures in the high 20s, sunshine and the occasional heavy shower….. The Tour de France is in full flow, the peak French holiday season is just about to start and many vineyards are about to enter their period of summer slumber. If only it were that easy! It isn’t.

Steady management and supervision of the vineyard remains critical at every stage of the viticultural cycle. The last 18 months have been very wet. There is a lot of moisture in the soil which when combined with lots of light and heat continues to provide excellent growing conditions for vines. The canopy of leaves and shoots requires vigilant maintenance to ensure that excess plant energy is not wasted on growing shoots rather than being directed into the young fruit. Care must also be taken to ensure that recurrence of mildew and other diseases does not break out following rainy days. There is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that season 2014 becomes a success.

Beautiful young fruit now showing on the Cabernet Franc vines

           Beautiful young fruit now showing on the Cabernet Franc vines

In Cardan, our vineyards are doing well. The Cabernet Francs in the Hourcat Sud block of are doing their usual trick of consistent low key reliable progress. Never “showy”, never dull, just steady. Fruit set looks to have been generally good and all the vines are in good health rolling forward gently. The organic viticulture programme and slow inclusion of biodynamic technique continues to deliver fantastic results.

In the tiny Hourcat Centre “Old Vine block” Merlot, the view is spectacular. It is hard to believe that at the start of 2012, these vines were all but dead. In 2014, they are glowing with health and vitality. The set of fruit is good and the quantity is equally positive – to the point where we will probably be carrying out weekly reviews with a view to “green harvesting” (cutting off some young green fruit) in order to contain yield and maintain good concentration of flavour.

A picture of vigour! 55+year old Merlot vine in Hourcat Centre

A picture of vigour! One of our 55+year old Merlot vines in Hourcat Centre in peak condition

Overall the full prognosis is very positive. We have done our calculations and it looks like our fermentation vat capacity will be stretched to the maximum. So an additional 530 litre microcuve vat has been ordered as a contingency for September delivery. It will be interesting to see which arrives first – the harvest or the vat!

And the recently planted baby Merlots now have their first leaves and are off to a great start. Mid summer magic in France!